By Supantha Mukherjee
PARIS/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The European Union is investigating social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, over a suspected breach of obligations in its first probe under the Digital Services Act (DSA), it said on Monday.
The DSA entered into force in November last year and requires very large online platforms and search engines to do more to tackle illegal content and risks to public security.
Following Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, EU industry chief Thierry Breton sent letters to X, Meta, TikTok and Alphabet reminding them of their obligations under the DSA to tackle harmful and illegal content.
The platforms responded by highlighting steps they have taken to stop disinformation on their platforms but Musk challenged Breton over the disinformation charge.
X, owned by Elon Musk, is part of a group of large tech companies facing increased scrutiny under the DSA. Only X has so far received a formal request for information under the DSA.
X remains committed to complying with the DSA and is cooperating with the regulatory process, it said in a statement on Monday.
“It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law,” it said.
The probe will focus on countering the dissemination of illegal content in the EU, and the effectiveness of measures taken to combat information manipulation, including the “community notes” system, the Commission said.
Earlier this year X launched its “Community Notes” feature, which allows users to comment on posts to flag false or misleading content, in effect crowd-sourcing fact checking to users rather than a dedicated team of fact checkers.
The Commission does not consider the community notes system to be flawed but it is looking at the way it has been implemented, a senior official said.
“We are concerned whether it is effective as a mitigation measure,” the person said.
The Commission said it will now carry out an in-depth investigation and by sending additional requests for information, conducting interviews and inspections, it said.
It will also review measures taken by X to increase transparency and a suspected deceptive design of the user interface such as checkmarks linked to subscription products, the so-called Blue checks, it said.
The Commission said a preliminary investigation conducted so far has included an analysis of a report submitted by X in September, X’s transparency report published in November, and X’s replies to a formal request for information about illegal content in connection to Hamas’ attacks against Israel.
X did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
The DSA imposes new rules on content moderation, user privacy and transparency. Any firm found in breach faces a fine worth up to 6% of its global turnover.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel in Paris and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Matt Scuffham)